This portrait of the artist Edgar Degas (1834-1917) was etched by Giuseppe De Nittis (1846-84). De Nittis trained in Naples but settled and made his name in Paris where he befriended many of the Impressionist painters. He took part in the First Impressionist Exhibition of 1874.
De Nittis and Degas were good friends. On the evening of 20 February 1875 the two of them, along with the artists Marcellin Desboutin (1823-1902) and Alphonse Hirsch (1843-84), gathered at the Parisian home of De Nittis to etch portraits of each other. The Museum also owns the etching of Degas made by Desboutin on this occasion.
De Nittis's print became part of the collection of Marcel Guérin. A fanatical Degas collector and art historian, Guérin edited Degas's letters for publication in 1945 and 1947, having written extensively on the artist since 1929. He was a major purchaser at the sales held immediately after Degas's death in 1917. These studio sales were the first real opportunity to purchase Degas's graphic work.